Ireland Gets Hibernian Help in Irish E3 Visa Push
A Congressional Bill to add visas for the Irish, sails through the House, gets challenged in the Senate. At the time of writing this article, Hibernians in Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Missouri are calling on their US Senators to support nearly 5,000 bi-annual renewable visas for the Irish. Irish visa winners could bring their spouse and children to live and work in the US as part of a reciprocal deal which eases work and retirement rules and a path to Irish Citizenship for Americans in Ireland. If successful, it will be the first dedicated renewable visas for Ireland in nearly 30 years. The AOH has, once again, proved that we are the only organization with such tremendous reach to legislators across the USA.
In the White House last Saint Patrick’s Day, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar proposed a reciprocal deal to President Trump. Although the original plan called for addressing undocumented Irish, the program that the White House finally agreed to involves the unused visas from Australia’s 10,500 E3 Visas. First granted in 2005, E3 visas were only for Australians, who never used more than half of the 10,500. These visas require at least a Bachelor Degree and have nothing to address the undocumented Irish. But as Irish Senator Billy Lawless, who first spoke about the reciprocal deal at our National Convention in Louisville said, “it’s the best chance at immigration reform we have had in 20 years.”
House Bill was sponsored by Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner and Massachusetts Democrat Richie Neal. Speaker Ryan mandated that it be fast-tracked through the House and Senate, which could lead to a quick passage in the Lame Duck Congress. National President Judge McKay and our Immigration Committee remained in constant communication with the Irish Embassy, Congressman Neal’s office, and other legislative offices and focused on the leading legislators in both Parties. Brian O’Dwyer, 2018 Sean MacBride Humanitarian Awardee urged his US Representative Jerry Nadler over Thanksgiving to assist Neal and Sensenbrenner, and House Resolution 7164 quickly passed the House in a procedure known as ‘unanimous consent.
The Senate came next and almost overnight, eight holds were placed on the Bill by Republican Senators, who wanted amendments added. Any such tweaks would scuttle the chances of the reciprocal deal and time was short. By working with President McKay, Neil Cosgrove- National Political Educational Committee Chair, the vigilant Keith Carney and our AOH National Immigration Committee, National Directors, National Liaisons, State Presidents and their members, enabled constituents in each state to have an informed dialog directly to their Senators and their offices on the Visa. Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall, his staff and Senator Billy Lawless, as well as many friends in Congress, recognize the vital role Hibernians have played in the effort. I close this article confident that we will win this and grateful for all the Hibernians who participated in this effort with our National President.
I wish each and every member, a Happy and Healthy Christmas and New Year from Siobhan, our daughters Ashling and Cara and I.